Today it’s easier than ever to watch a sporting event on TV. But the allure of being at an arena to watch the action unfold live is still unmatched. What keeps bringing us back? Is it the atmosphere? Is it the people? The food? Maybe it’s all of those things and more. The Players’ Tribune wanted to get a closer look at the people surrounding the sporting events we love — the ones who nobody comes to watch, but who serve a vital role in the magic of the game-day experience.
In this special edition of the TPT series From Where I See It, we shine a light on some of the individuals who have joined forces to make the debut of the Bay Area’s new Chase Center such an exciting and historic moment. Prior to Chase Center’s public opening on Sept. 6, there had never been a multipurpose indoor arena in San Francisco. This new venue, located in the Mission Bay neighborhood, not only will serve as a hub for the community, but also a gathering place for the entire Bay Area. It features an outdoor plaza with shops and restaurants, a massive public art installation by Olafur Eliasson, state-of-the-art technology at every turn, easy access via a partnership with the local Muni system and so much more.
Photographs by Deanne Fitzmaurice/The Players’ Tribune
Kevon Looney, Golden State Warriors Center
This new locker room is just … WOW! Everything’s high-tech, super clean. They spared no expense. Now I’m just looking to find out who I’m gonna be sitting by. I’ll be spending a lot of time in that room, so it’s a pretty big deal. I’m thinking maybe Jordan Poole — he’s a Milwaukee guy like me. Maybe we could stick together. Either that or Draymond. It’s always fun being next to Draymond. But, you know what? Now that I think about it, I remember Shaun Livingston saying that he was next to Dray last year and his locker was … let’s just say it wasn’t the cleanest spot in the world. So, yeah, maybe Jordan Poole’s the way to go. Regardless, though, I’m just ready for this place to open up, and to be a part of everything about Chase Center’s experience. I can’t wait! Once this building is up and running, I’m gonna to be here a lot. I’ve actually marked my calendar with some concerts I want to check out. And I’ve already started exploring some of the restaurants over here. It feels like home already.
Rick Welts, Golden State Warriors President and Chief Operating Officer
To be a part of bringing a world-class arena to the Bay Area is something extremely meaningful to me. I grew up in arenas. My relationship with my dad was born by going to games at stadiums and arenas. It was kind of our currency — the things we talked about, the time we spent together. And it’s not just sports. I love asking people, “What was the first concert you ever went to?” Ninety-five percent of people can answer that question immediately. It’s a memory that somehow was responsible for shaping a little bit of their lives. That’s what these venues do. They aren’t ultimately about basketball games or musical performances. These places are about creating those moments that really help shape people’s lives. The experiences people will have here at Chase Center, and those memories, will make a difference in their lives. So that, for me, has always been the attraction of being in this business. And to open this arena with this team, at this moment in time, in this place of the world … I’m truly honored to have been a part of this.
Neil Holbrook, Golden State Warriors Season Ticket Holder
I was born in Dublin and moved to the Bay Area 18 years ago. When I got here, I worked at a sports bar in San Francisco, and next thing I knew I had become a gigantic Warriors fan. Now I’m one of those guys you hear leading our crazy chants. And if you look way up to the top of the arena you’ll see me jumping up and down and yelling. I’m basically that guy. And this first season in Chase Center, it’s weird to say it, but I think us fans … we might be needed more than we have been in the past. We’re more like underdogs this year. So the team may need us to carry them on some nights. And that has me excited. I’m going to try to make every game at the new arena, and I’m gonna be extra loud this year. My plan is to take full advantage of this place, too — meet up with the boys a few hours before the game, maybe hang out in the park by the water a little bit, grab some dinner over here, a few drinks, and then … go scream my head off for the Dubs. I’m honestly getting the shivers even just thinking about opening night.
David Kelly, Golden State Warriors Chief Legal Officer, Business and Basketball
One of the main things I’ve done over the past five years is help line up all the agreements that were needed to get this place built — construction, labor, concessions, sponsorship, all that stuff. So, you know … I’m going to be very relieved to see this building open up. And what’s really different for us here is that, whereas before we were just a glorified tenant in someone else’s building, we now have the ability to shape the total experience — everything from food and shops to our non-basketball events. We had Metallica do a show already, and we’ll have Janet Jackson, WWE, and on and on. We want this to be a home for everyone in the Bay Area. And while I take a lot of pride in having been a small part of making it possible, to be honest, Steph built this place. Draymond built this. Klay, Kevon … they built this. This is their baby. This is the house that their greatness built. So I can’t wait to see how they respond to it on opening night. It’s going to be beyond special for everyone.
Bob Myers, Golden State Warriors General Manager
Before games, I like to hang out in this place I call “the cookie room.” It’s basically just a room that has some chairs, a couch, a TV, and then a big plate full of chocolate chip cookies. I’ll go over some notes or meet with people, or just turn on the TV to check out a game before tip-off. Now, at Chase Center, because everything is just so high-tech, I’m really excited about the new cookie room. We might have two TVs in there. Or three! That room will be huge for me, starting from the very first game we ever play here. And on that night I’m really going to do my best to just take some time to look around and take it all in. I’m not good at doing that. I struggle to do it. This time, though, I’m making a promise to myself to focus on the present and just kind of marvel at it all for at least the time prior to the game, and then into the first quarter. I want to remove myself from all the minutiae of my job and just be able to say, “You know what? This is pretty cool. I grew up here, and there is a brand new arena in San Francisco, and I get to go to the first Warriors game here, and have a pretty good seat to it.” I’m hoping that for at least a little while I can feel maybe like a 10-year-old might, and realize firsthand just how special everything about this new building is. It’s going to be a night I’ll always remember, I can tell you that.
Eric Housen, Golden State Warriors Director of Team Operations
My game days start super early in the morning, and I tend to be running around nonstop right up to game time. It’s food requests, laundry, travel stuff, you name it. But, man, when tip-off comes … that’s just the absolute best. At that point, I’m a fan like everyone else. These are my guys! I see all the work that they put in, and I just want them to win so bad. I’m very invested. I’m all-in. And I can’t wait to watch this team play in our new building, and for our fans to check this place out — this whole area, and what Chase Center has done for this neighborhood, it’s incredible. During the 2011 lockout I worked as a bike messenger, and when I came down to the Mission Bay area there really wasn’t much over here. Now it’s shops, restaurants, bars, parks — everything you could ever want. Our fans have been with us through thick and thin. They deserve a home base like this. And I feel like they’re gonna be blown away by it all.
D’Angelo Russell, Golden State Warriors Guard
When you walk into this place, it feels … different. It doesn’t feel like just any old arena. The entrance area, when you first set foot in the building, is just such an awesome sight. And then once you’re inside it feels almost like, I don’t know … it’s like a combination between a museum and a mall. There’s really cool art everywhere, and just tons of things to look at and see in every direction. When you get in this building … it’s the kind of place where you want to stay. You know what I mean? And for me, as the new guy, everything about this is fun right now — Hall of Fame coaches, Hall of Fame teammates, a Hall of Fame–level building to play in. What else could you want? I’m just excited to start exploring everything this place has to offer.
Lewis Rossman, Executive Chef and Partner, Sam’s Chowder House in Half Moon Bay, Chase Center Restaurant
Being part of the whole Chase Center experience is a once-in-a-lifetime deal for our restaurant. We feel honored, no doubt about it. And having seen everything this place has to offer, I truly feel like this arena is so unique and futuristic that it’s destined to become a must-see attraction for visitors to this city. It’s gonna be like, when you come to the Bay Area, you go to Coit Tower, and to the wharf, and to Golden Gate Park, and you ride on the trollies … and I think pretty soon people are going to start adding a Chase Center visit to that list. For me, personally, I just can’t wait for that first game. I plan on having one really good eye on what we’re doing, and how people are enjoying our lobster roll and chowder, but I’m not gonna lie … I’m also going to have an eye on the game, and just the atmosphere in this place, because it’s going to be extremely special.
Jeff Addiego, Golden State Warriors Senior Director of Youth Basketball
I have the best job in the world because it’s all about making kids’ dreams come true. We did 34 youth camps this summer and hosted more than 4,000 kids from the Bay Area. That’s my everyday, and I love it. We just finished an all-girls camp with Steph, and those kids were overjoyed. It’s so much fun to see how they respond to our players. And now, with the new Chase Center, it’s going to be awesome to have our kids come onto this beautiful new court for games during halftime, or for game-day clinics, right underneath that huge jumbotron. I’ve been out on the new court, and even with no fans in the seats … I was still awestruck. So they’re going to be blown away by it all. Those are memories they’ll have for the rest of their lives — making buckets from the very same spots where their heroes just stood. You really can’t beat that.